I've been an admirer of Wes Clark since the 2004 election. I was surprised as he rose to the top of the list of people I'd support in the presidential campaign. Although I never expected to feel so positive about a General, Clark stood out as one of the smartest, best-educated candidates.
But Friday on C-SPAN he said something that's been like a grain of sand in my oyster shell since then. Asked, "At what point in your life did you decide that the military was a career for you?" He replied, "Well, I was always interested in the military because I grew up in Little Rock and in the south and in the midwest people are very patriotic anyway."
What? Like people in the north and far west aren't?
He goes on to explain, "Most of my friends’ fathers had served in World War II. They always talked about it. And then, uh, we had the Korean War and we had crises every couple of years. And so you became attuned to this. The idea of trying to protect America was a sort of natural thing to think about. "
I don't recall being aware, when I was growing up in Plattsburgh, of whether or not my friends' fathers had served in World War II. They didn't talk about it. So, maybe there is a regional difference.
But is that what "patriotic" means? Talking about war? Both American Heritage Dictionary and Merriam-Webster say, "Inspired by love for or devotion to one's country." Love and devotion are pretty strong words. How about "committed?" And "country" is a pretty broad concept.